Andrei Kirilenko Has A Decision To Make

Photo by Helico on Flickr.

Forward Andrei Kirilenko is reportedly negotiating a deal to return to professional Russian team Spartak St. Petersburg.

While Kirilenko said several times last season that he would consider ending his career in Russia, he also stated a clear preference to remain in the NBA during the next few years. Moreover, Kirilenko’s mention that he might retire after the 2011 EuroBasket tournament is at odds with statements he made multiple times last season, when he expressed interest in extending his career several more years.

via Andrei Kirilenko reportedly negotiating return to Russia | The Salt Lake Tribune

If that was at all too confusing for you (if not, good for you, but it was definitely too confusing for me), let’s break this down together:

  1. Kirilenko is having negotiating with Spartak St. Petersburg for his return to Russian basketball.
  2. Last season, he expressed desire to continue playing basketball in the NBA for a few more years.
  3. He stated that he might retire after 2011 EuroBasket, which ends in September 18 — less than two months away.
  4. Repeat ‘B’, except cross out “in the NBA”.

So basically, Kirilenko wants to spend the twilight of his career playing both in Europe and in the NBA while lounging comfortably in his La-Z-Boy recliner at home. Except, from what my sources tell me, there aren’t enough Andrei Kirilenkos to do all three at once.

‘C’ comes particularly as a shock. Kirilenko is only 30 years old, and yet 30 seems like too high a number. It felt just like yesterday that he was a spindly 18-year-old rookie learning both the nuances of the game, and the rudiments of the English language. The length, agility, and athleticism that made him the ultimate defensive weapon also made him a common victim of injury.

Years pass by quickly when seasons are cut short. For us, the fans, an early retirement means missing out on the final moments of a truly unique talent. For Kirilenko, it’s could be a reprieve for the aching bones that have endured the constant blows of NBA play.

Clearly, the decision isn’t easy. There are a lot of options to juggle. He has time to untangle the knots. Hopefully he is happy with his final choice, whatever it ends up being.

Seth Carstens